How to Sharpen a Knife With a Rock

How to Sharpen a Knife With a Rock
A knife is perhaps one of the most important pieces of equipment in the outdoors. A well honed and sharpened knife may be used for any variety of chores from preparing food to general cutting. In a survival situation, a sharp knife becomes a necessity as part of an overall plan to rescue. Many times, the means to sharpen a knife is overlooked as part of basic outdoor equipment. In this case, a rock may be used in place of a whet stone to hone and sharpen the knife blade.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Sharpening a Knife With a Rock

Things You’ll Need:
  • knife porous rock without pits
  • knife
  • porous rock without pits
Step 1
Locate a rock suitable on which to sharpen the knife blade. Take into consideration the type of rock for this purpose. Choose a rock that is somewhat porous but without large pits and holes. Porous rock, such as sandstone, makes an excellent sharpening stone as it provides the necessary grit to hone a blade. Rocks located next to rivers and streams often make good stones as they have been smoothed by the water and will often be of a small and manageable size. Ideally, two stones will result in optimal sharpening with one being of a finer grit. However, sharpening may be accomplished with only one stone.
Step 2
Begin by holding the stone in your hand in such a manner that your fingers will be safely out of the way while sharpening the knife. Keep in mind that in many outdoor situations, extra care must be taken to avoid potential injury. A cut finger at home may be easily taken care of even if advanced care is required. However, in the outdoors there may only be you or one other person with a basic first aid kit to address the situation. Use caution when performing all actions with a knife.
Step 3
Place the blade of the knife against the rock. Position the blade at an angle following the grind or bevel of the blade. During the process, attempt to maintain a sufficient angle to sharpen the blade while avoiding the main edge. It is easy to dull or even fold over the factory edge by sharpening the blade at the incorrect angle.
Step 4
Draw the knife along the entire length of the blade maintaining with an even and steady motion. The motion of the blade should move away from the edge as it travels across the stone. Repeat the process by turning the knife blade over and repeating. Make two to three passes on each side of the knife blade.
Step 5
Test the knife blade by cutting a piece of material, such as a stick or piece of rope. If there is a second stone to be used which may provide a finer grit for which to finish the honing process, repeat the sharpening process with two to three passes on each side.

Tips & Warnings

It is important to maintain a good angle on the blade to avoid damage which may be difficult or impossible to restore in the field.
Use care when performing any task with a knife, especially sharpening. Keep your fingers as clear as possible when sharpening the knife blade.

Article Written By Tara Dooley

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.

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